07 September 2023
Approaching a new town, city, country or indeed continent by sailboat has a uniquely different feel to arriving by other modes of transport. In other modes of transport you’re usually warm, dry and well slept.
As cruisers, one of the challenges we face is that when we make such landfalls, our experience is generally restricted to either the nearest hostelry or whatever radius from the boat our wee legs can manage. If we’re really lucky and meet some friendly locals or partake in a rally, our radius can be enlarged, maybe by a trip out to a remote campsite like when we made it out to the Cederberg Oasis in South Africa, a traditional restaurant in Recife, a woodland walk in Tasmania, a Grenadian waterfall or, heaven forbid, a museum. Amazingly, to us, in many places, someone we’ve only just met will toss us their car keys.
However, when we’re on our own, we seldom get the opportunity to experience what the location has to offer beyond our limited radius. We used to have push bikes on board and for a while, these greatly increased our radius until these rusted to a halt. Uber helps, but the radius is increased only in line with how much cash you want to throw at the day or days out.
A car would solve the problem in terms of opening up the country but we both agree we’d just end up half asleep with a lap full of drool.
That’s why I like getting my hands on a motorcycle and why Anne tolerates it. Tooled up with the ability to cover large distances with ease, with the wind in our faces we can really get to see, smell and feel the country and our radius is limited only by time available….. and the pain in our bums.
Nova Scotia is the latest of our two wheeled adventures, this time with the added attraction of re-discovering the freedom and joys of living under canvas.
It has much in common with cruising in small boats!
Hope you enjoy it.
Forecast: Maine-ly Foggy
20 August 2023
The good news for cruisers and, indeed lobsters, is that the Nova Scotia lobster season is restricted to the months of November through to the end of May. Their lobster boats are onshore or tied up in harbour. All their gear, instead of lying in wait to catch a passing vessel, is lined up in yards and gardens around the country all of which made our cruise up and down the coast a bit less stressful. All we had was fog. In Maine however, according to a Nova Scotian fisherman there’s “a different science”. In Maine, weather permitting, it’s open season on lobsters pretty much year round. That means that during the summer months it’s a bit safer in Nova Scotia, relative to Maine, to mooch around in the fog. Safer for both cruisers and lobsters. However, unlike the lobsters, in Maine we certainly shan’t be shedding our outer clothing. Underneath our summer blanket of fog, it’s freezing.
I say, “in Maine” as we just spent twenty three hours motoring across the Gulf of Maine to land on Mount Desert Island. Twenty three hours through fog and dark and in the last twenty miles, the Maine minefields of lobster pots. Offshore, in the greater depths, the lobstering gear is pretty heavy. Concrete bottomed, steel framed pots buoyed with conspicuous risers and pick-up bouys. Ten to fifteen millimetre diameter polypropylene rope connects the lot allowing the lobster men, that’s men who fish for lobsters, not male lobsters, to haul up their pots. And catch the occasional passing boat occasioning subsequent visits to boat yards or indeed a visit from the lifeboat.
Nearer shore in the shallower waters the pot and bouy density dramatically increases until you’re negotiating a path through a maze of hundreds of little bouys spaced across the bay no more than a boat length apart. This keeps some cruisers away from Maine, especially when you add in the fog.
It doesn’t make it very popular with lobsters either.
15 August 2023
Let’s go to Nova Scotia. It will be lovely.
And it was.
One Scottish Series, the annual race week on the west coast of Scotland, or at least it was a week, back when men were men, we found ourselves hanging off a kedge anchor in a flat calm and thick, thick fog somewhere near Loch Ryan turning mark.
With nothing much better to do, Andy and I had a wee look to see what was at the bottom of the whisky bottle. A few drams later, “C-R-A-S-H” as the sharp edged, aluminium radar reflector dropped like a stone between us. Scared the living daylights out us ……. but we never spilt a drop.
That was perhaps the last time we sailed in thick fog.
Right up ‘till now…..
Time and Tide
05 August 2023
One day, if I can ever get round to finishing it, you might get a few minutes mild amusement reading a tale in my “Forthcoming Book”. One night after way too many beers in the Islay Frigate in Tarbert, at closing time, which in Tarbert back then, could be anything from 11 PM to just before the milkman arrived of - some bright spark gave out the cry of, “Hey! Let’s sail home now!!”
At that, a shower of drunks agreed that, that indeed was a shhplendid idea. Swilling down the last of our drinks a bunch of us then staggered across to the edge of the fish quay (that’s pronounced “key” for any American readers) and peered over the edge looking way down at the decks far below. In Tarbert, the tidal range gets to around four metres and it can be quite daunting when you’ve had a beer or two, facing the prospect of slithering down a seaweed covered ladder in the dark.
As the idjit whose brilliant idea it was slunk away in the dark to his warm sleeping bag realising it actually wasn’t such a great idea after all, a number perused the challenge of getting aboard.
The dilemma was solved when one brave soul, or just stupidly drunk, leapt for the mast just in front of him, slithering gleefully down to the distant deck in a fair imitation of a fireman answering a call. A few followed but most took the ladder and eventually we set off into the dark night to find out shortly after that actually, slopping around in the cold and dark with the sails slatting in the fading breeze wasn’t actually such a shplendid idea after all. Ahh, the folly of youth and the wonders of alcohol.
Having left the almost tideless tropics and sailed up to Nova Scotia we are definitely back in tidal waters. Out here in the Bay of Fundy, the harbours look like someone’s pulled out the plug. The tidal range is thirteen to fourteen metres. If you’re tied to one of the many town docks you better A) leave plenty slack and B) don’t try the fireman’s pole technique as you’re either going to capsize the boat or have a swiftly sobering end to the evening.
We rode over two thousand kilometres of Nova Scotia in blazing sunshine. We even camped, guddling around on our hands and knees and doing these midnight walks through the campsite to the loo.
Today, we are back on the boat getting ready to start our migration south. Last night we realised why we had enjoyed clear blue skies for the last ten days; they’d sent the clouds away to get re-filled. Last night, they returned and once again. emptied once all over us accompanied by much lightning and boat shuddering thunder. This resulted in a midnight dash through the rain and a climb over the davits to pull the bung out the dinghy and putting all the electronics into our Faraday cage.
You’d have got this post earlier but I’d forgotten the electronics were in the oven.
Spooky or what!
28 July 2023
As it was a special day, we decided to leave the tent in the back of the bike, spoil ourselves and check into a joint with a real bed, restaurant and hot shower. To put icing on the cake, there was live music after dinner. Spooky or what!!!!! ? The first tune the guy plays is........🔥 Listen now on #Deezer
Your text to link...
Where were we and where were you back then? (Other than getting ready to head for the Nationals?).
Even spookier, his 2nd tune was Dougie Maclean's "Caledonia".
23 July 2023 | Boston Harbour
We're revisiting old haunts in this video; Beaufort NC, Norfolk VA, New York NY and finally Boston. A trip greatly assisted by Dianne in Beaufort, Gary and Greta in Norfolk and all the folk in the Pilot House. Thanks all.
It is a kind of holiday snaps edition but I does me best!
Hope you enjoy some or even all of it.
Stuart & Anne
Land Of The Long White Cloud
19 July 2023 | Drookit
A few years ago we pitched up in New Zealand - The Land Of The Long White Cloud.
This week, we pitched up in Nova Scotia. Land Of The Long White cloud mark ll.
The difference is that in New Zealand, the cloud is restricted to the mountains, creating the effect for approaching sailors of a, well, long white cloud streaming off the mountain peaks. As befits a cloud of any standing, it keeps itself to lofty elevations allowing those below to go about their business, mostly in sunshine.
In Nova Scotia, the cloud sits between sea level, or, more appropriately, SEE level and perhaps fifty or a hundred metres. Pea soup! Jeez, the wee radar has been whirring away continuously for days and as yet, while we've covered a couple of hundred miles of Nova Scotian coastline, dropping in at Clarks Harbour at the south east point for a fish supper. Shelburne to clear in with Customs and Immigration who threw a fit when I wandered out the yacht club shower and they found out we were all ashore pre-clearance. "Only one of you should be ashore. AND, you're not allowed to anchor on Canadian soil until you're cleared." Whoops. Four pissed off guys armed to the hilt, dressed like a SWAT team, Glocks, Tasars, pepper spray, extending baton, handcuffs and the essential little rubber stamps. You, know, the ones with the little spinning wheels to change the date and just Ian our son, Anne and one dripping bloke to vent their pent up anger.
After getting read the riot act we were instructed to up anchor and bring the boat into the dock so they could clump aboard in their SWAT boots and fill out all the usual forms.
Next morning, aiming for Ian's parting flight, we set off into the ever present murk and felt our way along the coast and parked up on Lockeport where at least we got to listen to a new tune, echoing from their harbour fog horn. We visited Lunenburg for twelve hours to tick that box and, in a few hours, finally Halifax. For the third day, continuing the effort to catch the plane, we left at six sharp - into the fog wearing full foul weather gear. Items of clothing that haven't seen the light of day in years. Fortunately it cleared a bit an hour or two ago so today, it's just cold, wet and rainy. Fog forecast later.
No wonder the first settlers called it New Scotland.
Right! You’re On
07 July 2023 | Boston, New England
One of the major downsides of long term cruising to far flung parts is that you don’t get to see the family, although, some might say that’s a major reason for going.
In our case, we’ve missed the little darlings, especially watching the grandchildren growing up. We’ve been grandparents in absentia making guest appearances by video link.
In our absence, certainly for the Scotland based grandwinkies the local grandparents have done a sterling job. They’ve babysat on demand, done weekends away and all manner of truly supportive, hands on grand parenting. I’m not entirely sure our son knows how to open a can of paint.
We on the other hand have been lounging around in the sun or, most recently, the fogs, lightning storms and just plain and simple rain of a very unseasonable New England summer.
These days, it seems as if everywhere we go, the locals are saying, never seen weather like this before. Instead of cruising north in the balmy summer sun, various extreme levels of precipitation have smacked us in the face, mist, rain, fog, you name it. We had it all. I nearly drowned the other day having fallen asleep with my mouth open during a major downpour.
We left Norfolk in the mist which farther north turned into fog. We were beginning to feel we’d developed cataracts and our vision has yet to clear several weeks later. We had a rare lovely day for going around New York, anchored under the Statue of Liberty waiting on the tide to turn. However, mist and fog descended for our sail up Long Island Sound and we only saw the coastlines on the plotter. Weather like this really makes the sunny days special and we finally enjoyed a glorious summer day as we sailed through the Cape Cod Canal. I think we were meant to motor but hey, diesel’s expensive.
I mentioned previously we were in a rush to get to Boston to meet the relocating elder son and family - the aforementioned winkies. We just made it, albeit to the wrong terminal. We’ve been to the baby gear store, Toys r’ Us, the supermarket and hauled mountains of luggage to remote car parks. We’ve babysat, helped spread yogurt around a child’s face and finally, like eager team substitutes sat on the bench for years, we’re on.
Everything but diaper changing that is.